Human Rights and Healthy Secularity

Journal of Catholic Social Thought, 7:2 (2010): 231-251

21 Pages Posted: 4 Feb 2011 Last revised: 16 Jun 2012

See all articles by Zachary R. Calo

Zachary R. Calo

Valparaiso University Law School

Date Written: February 2, 2010


This paper assesses the idea of "healthy secularity" that Pope Benedict has invoked on a number of occasions. It reads healthy secularity as an extension of seminal themes within Catholic social thought that define the terms of the church's engagement with modernity and liberal politics. An important impulse within modern Catholic social thought has been to open the church to the modern world. Benedict's invocation of the language of the secular continues this impulse but equally represents a move to deepen the points of contact. While Catholic social thought has had much to say about the conditions of modernity, it has generally avoided an explicit encounter with the language and concept of the secular. The paper concludes by considering how the idea of healthy secularity might shape the tradition of Catholic thinking about human rights.

Keywords: Secularism, Secular, Secularity, Healthy Secularism, Human Rights, Benedict, Pope Benedict, Catholic Social Thought, Europe, Religion, Liberalism, Dignitatis, Gaudium et Spes, Freedom, Caritas

Suggested Citation

Calo, Zachary, Human Rights and Healthy Secularity (February 2, 2010). Journal of Catholic Social Thought, 7:2 (2010): 231-251. Available at SSRN:

Zachary Calo (Contact Author)

Valparaiso University Law School ( email )

656 S. Greenwich St.
Valparaiso, IN 46383-6493
United States
219.465.7970 (Phone)


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